A Spectacular View Of Mushrooms

This video is a half hour tour of spectacular mushroom photographs. Including glow in the dark mushrooms and time lapse that lets you watch mushrooms move as they grow. I’ve had a long standing interest in mushrooms (and other fungi) for a variety of reasons. Some are great to eat, while others are incredibly toxic and lethal. Some are very pretty, and others not so much. A few have mind altering properties, some cure cancer (at least that’s what is asserted by their advocates), and some are critical to proper operation of forests and gardens. Without them, compost would just pile up forever.

There was a time in early earthly evolution when life had just moved onto land and the dominant type was fungi. Some the size of modern trees. Only later did the present zoo of animals and botanical garden of plants evolve. Yes, at one time this was a world of fungus. They are still everywhere, but humans usually ignore them. Half way between animals and plants, they live from the dying of others. They eat, but with digestion outside rather than inside. Some make Vitamin D in the sun like we do. They share the making of chitin with all the insects and crustaceans of the world. In many ways they are like animals that can not move around. Yet in structure and appearance, are more like plants. Roots, stems, fruiting bodies…

I sometimes wonder if they are the common parent from which both plants and animals evolved. But know it isn’t the case. Algae were around before mushrooms and fungi took over the land. The reality is more along the lines of animals being distant cousins of fungi:


The opisthokonts (Greek: ὀπίσθιος (opísthios)=”rear, posterior” + κοντός (kontós)=”pole” i.e. “flagellum”) are a broad group of eukaryotes, including both the animal and fungus kingdoms. The opisthokonts, previously called the “Fungi/Metazoa group”, are generally recognized as a clade. Opisthokonts together with Apusomonadida and Breviata comprise the larger clade Obazoa.

Flagella and other characteristics:

A common characteristic of opisthokonts is that flagellate cells, such as the sperm of most animals and the spores of the chytrid fungi, propel themselves with a single posterior flagellum. It is this feature that gives the group its name. In contrast, flagellate cells in other eukaryote groups propel themselves with one or more anterior flagella. However, in some opisthokont groups, including most of the fungi, flagellate cells have been lost.

Opisthokont characteristics include synthesis of extracellular chitin in exoskeleton, cyst/spore wall, or cell wall of filamentous growth and hyphae;
the extracellular digestion of substrates with osmotrophic absorption of nutrients; and other cell biosynthetic and metabolic pathways. Genera at the base of each clade are amoeboid and phagotrophic.


The close relationship between animals and fungi was suggested by Thomas Cavalier-Smith in 1987, who used the informal name opisthokonta (the formal name has been used for the chytrids by Copeland in 1956), and was supported by later genetic studies.

Early phylogenies placed fungi near the plants and other groups that have mitochondria with flat cristae, but this character varies. More recently, it has been said that holozoa (animals) and holomycota (fungi) are much more closely related to each other than either is to plants, because opisthokonts have a triple fusion of carbamoyl phosphate synthetase, dihydroorotase, and aspartate carbamoyltransferase that is not present in plants, and plants have a fusion of thymidylate synthase and dihydrofolate reductase not present in the opisthokonts. Animals and fungi are also more closely related to amoebas than to plants, and plants are more closely related to the SAR supergroup of protists than to animals or fungi. Animals and fungi are both heterotrophs, unlike plants, and while fungi are sessile like plants, there are also sessile animals.

Cavalier-Smith and Stechmann argue that the uniciliate eukaryotes such as opisthokonts and Amoebozoa, collectively called unikonts, split off from the other biciliate eukaryotes, called bikonts, shortly after they evolved.

Essentially, once eukaryotes (complex nucleus) evolved, they split into those with a tail in the back to push them around and those with a tail or two in the front to pull them around. We’re from the group with tails in the back… Some evolved from single cells into mushrooms and other fungi, others evolved into worms with mouths, then eventually evolved into all the other animals we know today. One clever worm evolved a tooth. That was pretty much the biggest leap forward in the world of worms, and from that we get all the vertebrates of today. The toothed worm that eventually added fins, spine, skull and jaws, turned fins into arms and legs, and eventually learned to type…

So while the fungi are very very distant cousins, they are not quite plants. So here’s the family album of their clan:

You also get to see the flies that hang around your face in Australia. I loved my visit there, but the flies in some places are a real annoyance. New Zealand doesn’t have them, and at that time the plane would have a crewman walk through spraying pesticide to prevent any being carried from Australia to New Zealand. I didn’t run into any in the Outback, so they seemed to be limited to places with water. Or maybe I just didn’t spend enough time out back…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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19 Responses to A Spectacular View Of Mushrooms

  1. Quail says:

    That was wonderful!

  2. H.R. says:

    I have to second Quail; excellent video! and (!!!! for good measure)

    I like to look at the various mushrooms that I run across in my area. I’ve not gone nuts identifying them or even cataloging the names and prevalence of the fungi in my locale. But I do marvel at their forms and persistence.

    BTW, on a local radio call-in show on gardening that I’d catch while running fix-it errands on Saturday mornings (Gardening With Denny), the topic of mushrooms in the lawn came up one time. “Denny’ said that it was a good sign that your lawn was rich in organics.

    The caller wanted to know if he should apply something to kill them or if he was doing something wrong. Denny assured the caller that he has great soil going under his lawn and noted that the mushrooms were usually gone in hours or at most, after a day. “Don’t do nuthin’ and attaboy, you’re doing a good job building up your soil.”

    After that, I’ve always taken it as a good sign that my weeds have great soil to thrive on whenever I see mushrooms come up in my lawn😁

    I don’t do weed ‘n feed so long as I have dogs, well now just one. That’s been a good thing for the mushrooms, too. I do use some plain fertilizer a couple of times a year, though.

  3. H.R. says:

    Oh, ’round here puffball fungi are common. I get them in my yard and I see them in the woods and, well… they are common. They range in size from ping-pong ball to tennis ball.

    At my regular bluegill, bass, crappie pond that’s in the State Park we live next to, I was walking to a favorite spot when OMG! I spotted a puffball that was nearly the size of a soccer ball. It was huge and jumped an order of magnitude from the largest I had ever seen before.

    The trail that I was on is shared by hikers going about the State Park and people fishing the pond. The puffball was noted and admired by many; I was fishing a clear spot near the puffball and could hear the hikers and heard the exclamations.

    It lasted a whole day plus. I fish that pond near daily and when I came back the next day, it was still there. But after working my way around the pond, when I got back to the spot, someone had kicked it.

    I understand that. Puffballs explode when you give them a kick or a whack with a stick. The spores go everywhere, so it’s a no harm, no foul sort of thing. It’s just part of their propagation mechanism.

    I have seen time lapse videos of them exploding on their own to release their spores, and I suppose it’s their propagation mechanism to also have deer and whatnot step on them to give them a big POP! and spread their spores.

    Anyhow, I have never ever seen a puffball that large, and now it has me wondering what their maximum size could be, since they usually only get to golf ball or tennis ball size before they explode on their own.

    I wish there was something to show scale, but I didn’t have much luck finding an image where someone thought to include a common object for scale.

  4. Chiefio, I have often found that your posts cover something about which i have been thinking. Here, you have done it again. We have had some different mushrooms pop up in the garden. I know they were not the edible field mushrooms which came up in the nature strip ( in Australia the grass virge between the road and the front boundary of the land one owns) a few months ago. So I was looking at some sites on identifying mushrooms and which were edible, poisonous and toxic. I downloaded some pdf files which had pretty pictures for identification but not one was marked with edible or poisonous. The video on your blog was good. The photographer lives a bit south of where I live but places around here has similar terrain and climate (although maybe a bit warmer sub-tropical rainforest) However, it would have been better if he highlighted which were safe and which dangerous. It was news to me that in Yunnan there were some 900 edible types. I have been to a fungi restaurant in Japan where they had 50 or 60 different types some which were like steak when cooked and others with a unique taste. Alex is right that one can only buy some 5 to 8 types in supermarkets. I bought some called white cap in the super, yesterday- they look like button mushrooms. I have not seen any of what we call field mushrooms that grow in a ring often around cow pats or sheep droppings in the field. They have pink or brown ribs and taste great. Maybe, they can not be grown commercially.
    Anyway keep up the good work Peter

  5. E.M.Smith says:


    The problem is that for some poison vs edible determinations it takes a “spore print” AND careful botany. Things most folks cannot do. Each year several folks with guide books get sick….

    There are some good to eat without confusing look-a-likes and others near identical. Worse, some mycelium matts will share making a mushroom with a related species, so you get variable toxicity in some places, fine to eat in others. So exact location matters.

    To fairly reliably eat wild mushrooms, it is best to study with some local mushroom hunters. Join a group…

    For variety, it is easiest to find an Asian Grocery Store…

  6. H.R. says:

    Hey, hey, hey, E.M.

    Mrs. H.R. Woke up at 3:00 am Friday night and couldn’t go back to sleep. For reasons unknown to me, she navigated to your blog watched the mushroom video.

    She liked it a lot. Same “Gee whiz!” reaction as anyone who watches it. “I had no idea….”
    I know Mrs. H.R. has read a couple of the articles here that I have pointed out because I knew she would be very interested. Not many, but she read them and was interested. As best I know, she has only read through a bit of the comments on the rare times she has been on your blog to read an article

    I’m sure she has never commented here. So I thought I’d drop a note about another viewer’s highly positive reaction to that mushroom video. You never would have found out about it directly from her.
    I also did that because I asked about your family reading your blog, and you said that Mrs. E.M. is much the same. She has read a some of your posts here and there, and maybe a couple of comments, that you have steered her to because you knew it was up her alley and she’d really like it. Best I know, Mrs. E.M. has never dropped a comment here, either.

    But she’s there with you and can let you know, “Hey, honey. That was good.” But there are a bunch of other people who read but never drop a comment to let you know if you wrote a home run or a clinker.

    I just thought I’d drop a line to let you know the mushroom video was a home run at the H.R. household.
    Oh, a P.S. to all: Mrs. H.R. knows most of the regulars here on E.M.’s blog. She has even had opportunity to meet Ossqss and knows who Gail Combs is because I’ve referred her to a few of Gail’s posts and… I always wave to Gail and her hubby when I cross I-40 on the way to or from Hilton Head Island in S.C. I sent some Marmite to Gallopingcamel so she knows…sorta… who he is. “You bought what?!? And you’re sending it where?!?” What the hey-all is Marmite?”

    Anyhow, Mrs. H.R. recognizes a lot of the names here if, after she asks who is that? and I say oh that’s so-and-so in G.B. or France (one of the Brits or Simon Derricutt in France or P.G. in California) or whatever.

    But she is by no means a regular.

  7. cdquarles says:

    While my area isn’t quite as deadly as parts of Australia, novices here are warned to be wary of the wildlife and don’t drink from most streams or eat fruits and nuts found in the wild. Rumor has it a mountain lion still lurks in the wooded hills … but no bears, yet, nor gators. Lots of poisonous snakes though, so watch where you put your hand! I have seen with my own eyes all of the main varieties of poisonous snakes and a few of the hybrids. Definitely do not eat any mushroom here that wasn’t bought in the store. While you might survive .., you may find yourself needing a liver transplant.

  8. Scissor says:

    For good eating, it’s difficult to beat morels.

  9. p.g.sharrow says:

    Our woods are full of Morel but it takes a fire to make them “bloom” I don’t hunt mushrooms, but there are lots of varieties that show in season. Most of them are not palatable a few toxic! Just not something I’m into. Probable should dump wood ashes from the stove out in the woods and see if I can force a Morel bloom.

  10. Jim Masterson says:


    When I saw this title, I thought you were talking about our President. You know, someone who lives in the basement and eats . . . err, well, manure. Maybe it’s that he feeds us that manure stuff.


  11. E.M.Smith says:


    Nice to know.


    There’s a tree in Florida that’s lethal. Just sitting under it in the rain can kill you… Everywhere has their thing… I grew up playing with the Black Widow spiders in our garage and occasionally taking them from where they had wandered into the house to outside as Mum was bothered by them ;-)


    They’ve worked out the details so you need not re-invent, just extend:


    Sclerotia cultivation consists of inoculating a sterilized cooled container with the vegetative mycelium, either petri plate mycelium or mycelium covered pieces of grain characterized in the mushroom industry as grain spawn. The container may be rigid such as a glass or polypropylene jar, or autoclavable polypropylene bags commonly used in the mushroom industry. The contents of the sclerotial container consists of a bottom layer of hydrated grain, wheat for example and a top layer of hydrated soil. The key to cultivation of morels is the large scale production of sclerotia.

    Following inoculation of the sclerotia containers the cultures are sealed and incubated 4 – 5 weeks. During this time mycelium grows through the soil layer at an average rate of 1.5 cm/day. Upon reaching the nutrient grain layer hyphal elongation slows and extensive secondary hyphal branching begins. At this point the hyphae hydrolyze the grain, assimilate the released nutrients, translocate these nutrients back to the older hyphal cells in the soil layer. Three weeks after inoculation sclerotia change from white to a rust color and as maturation continues the sclerotia become brown due to melanization. Once the sclerotia are mature and completely melanized, they can be harvested for planting.

    The soil layer and mature sclerotia are removed from the container and planted in standard horticulture trays. Morel tray cultures are prepared by adding a soil-sclerotia mix to the trays and the contents of the tray are covered with a moist layer of soil. Once prepared the cultures are lightly misted and allowed to colonize in the dark for a period of 6 days.

    Cultures are induced seven days after culture preparation. Induction entails the thorough hydration of sclerotia, which stimulates the adventitious hyphae growing from the sclerotia to commence the fruiting process. The following developmental sequence is observed during ascocarp growth.

    3 DPI (days post-induction) extensive hyphal growth covers the cultures accompanied by conidia formation. Seven-to-ten days post-induction primordia, 1 mm in height and diameter, arise from a single hyphae. Primordia elongate at a rate of about 1 mm/day giving rise to an apothecial fundament that is white in color. By 18 – 21 days postinduction the fully differentiated fruiting structure is 1 cm in height and looks like a small white morel with a distinct cap with ridges and a stipe. From this point onward the growth rate accelerates to 1 – 1.5 cm/day and there is a color change from white to gray. Ascosporogenesis coincides with a decrease in growth rate, another change of color to tan, with the final ascocarp color becoming pale ochre at ascospore maturity. Morels are harvested before ascosporogenesis.

    Looks to me like moisture is the big thing. Maybe it is just coincidence that water puts out the fires then you get the mushrooms…


    Resources for Mushroom Growers
    Morel Mushroom Cultivation
    Morels are one tough mushroom to grow commercially! Two cultivation processes have been patented. The first process is based upon work by Ronald D. Ower, Gary Mills and James Malachowski, who were the first to produce morels in a controlled environment at San Francisco State University in 1982. The findings were published in Mycologia 74(1), Jan-Feb 1982. Still, at last report, no one, besides the inventors, has been able to produce morels by the instructions in the patent. Terry Farms opened a morel production facility in Auburn, Alabama with Mill’s assistance and offered their products for a few years, producing up to almost 1,400 pounds per week, but closed down the operation in 1999. In 2005 Mills, formerly with Diversified Natural Products and now with Gourmet Mushrooms, Inc., began producing morels in Scottville, Michigan. While the operation was initially very profitable, the farm was hit with a severe bacterial infection in 2006. Mill’s had been producing Morchella rufobrunnea derived from a morel originally collected in California. This is a yellow morel typically found in landscaped areas. For more information on this species, see this report from the July-September 2008 edition of Mycotaxon. Mills continues to work with Gourmet Mushrooms in efforts to make morel production commercially viable.

    The second patented process was invented by Stuart C. Miller. This process involves outdoor cultivation of inoculated tress under which the morels will fruit if the trees are killed. The process is generally described at morelfarms.com.

    Hao Tan, et al, published an article in Environmental Microbiology on July 17, 2019 titled Multi-iomic analyses of exogenous nutrient bag decomposition by the black morel Morchella importuna reveal sustained carbon acquisition and transferring. It explains how morels use bags of nutrients. The supplementary material provides a lot of background information including the process researchers used to grow the morels. Professor Tan told us, “We welcome farmers, technicians, biotechnological engineers and scientists all around the world to replicate this method in their countries and harvest their own morels. The “M. importuna SCYDJ1-A1″ is not the only variety that can fruit under artificial cultivation. To our knowledge, this method is working on any strains of M.importuna, M.sextelata or M.eximia which can be easily obtained from the wild. Do remember, the method is not working on M.esculenta.”

    Some suppliers sell morel spawn with instructions for creating a small outdoor patch. This works, sometimes, but it is certainly not a sure thing and don’t expect commercial yields.


    Claims it is about elm trees, yet one came up in my front yard up near Chico about 60 years ago (didn’t know what it was then, but thought it very strange) and we had no elm trees… Walnut and orange only IIRC.

    A patented morel cultivation discovery
    You always knew there was a connection between those morels and that elm tree. You were right, there is!

    This website offers trees for sale that have been inoculated with the morel fungus. The discovery is protected by Patent Number: US 6,907,691 B2 and Patent Number: 6,951,074 B2 cultivation of morchella and cultivation of morel ascocarps respectively. Morel cultivation is briefly outlined in this website and is described in detail in the patents.

    Goes out of his way to say you can’t use the idea without his say-so, but Patents protect against COMMERCIAL use, not against private use…

    The Discovery
    On April 23, 2002, after taking thousands of photos, Stewart finally captured the detailed microscopic pictures that he was searching for, the hyphae of the morel fungus growing from a single spore and entering the root of an ash tree, see picture attached.

    The actual discovery, in laymen’s terms, can be outlined in three parts as follows:

    The morel fungus infects the roots of certain trees and plants.

    During the course of his experiments Stewart Miller discovered that trees that have been inoculated with the morel fungus grow faster and are healthier than those that are not inoculated. So, the fungus helps the tree ingest nutrients and moisture from the soil thereby helping it grow, while the fungus enjoys living and expanding inside the tree roots while ingesting the sap. The second discovery is that there is a mutualistic or symbiotic relationship between the fungus and the tree.
    The third discovery answers the question, “How and when does the fungus develop into a morel mushroom? Stewart Miller coined the term “symbiotic disruption” to explain this event. A dying or dead tree stimulates the fungus inside it, causing it to withdraw from the roots, thereby forming hardened nodules below the ground called “sclerotia”. These sclerotia eventually swell in size with sufficient water and warmth and the morel mushroom eventually pops up through the ground in the spring. When an inoculated tree is healthy the fungus does not want to leave its happy home. Its not until the fungus experiences symbiotic disruption from its’ happy home that causes it to withdraw from the roots of the dying tree or plant.

    So both processes make the “sclerotia” in the ground. One needs a tree, the other prepared media. Looks like several tree species are possible…
    The page goes on to describe Orchids as being one symbiont species. Spouse like Orchids?

    @Jim Masterson:

    I think POTU-Sino Biden has a different species:

    Ophiocordycepts… the cordycepsts grow out of the brain creating zombies… I think Biden may have discovered a new one that survives in people instead of ants… But for comparison:


    Have you ever been so intoxicated you found yourself stumbling around, trying to find your friends, ending up in places you would never normally go, and executing behaviours you would normally never do sober? Well if so you can relate to ants who are the host for the parasitic fungi Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, the fungus that has coined the term “the zombie ant fungus.”


    Cordyceps /ˈkɔːrdɪsɛps/ is a genus of ascomycete fungi (sac fungi) that includes about 600 species. Most Cordyceps species are endoparasitoids, parasitic mainly on insects and other arthropods (they are thus entomopathogenic fungi); a few are parasitic on other fungi. The generic name Cordyceps is derived from the Greek word κορδύλη kordýlē, meaning “club”, and the Greek word κεφαλή cephali, meaning “head”.[citation needed]

    The genus has a worldwide distribution and most of the approximately 600 species[3] that have been described are from Asia (notably Nepal, China, Japan, Bhutan, Korea, Vietnam, and Thailand). Cordyceps species are particularly abundant and diverse in humid temperate and tropical forests.

    I wonder if Biden has been to the tropics in the last decade or so…

  12. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith; A number of years ago I was doing a bunch of masonry work which included a lot of bagged cement and concrete. After I was done for the year, I burned off the empty bags. the next spring that spot had a heavy Morel bloom. Also after building that dugout greenhouse next to the Garden, There was a bloom in the floor next to the wall l made of soil cement. I would guess that the PH change in the Acid soil had something to do with the bloom. I very rarely see a Morel in the wild around here. I do know that Morel Hunters favorite search areas in the spring in burn areas. That might be due to better visibility on bare soil of killed vegetation. In any case next week the soil temperature should reach the start of fungi blooming temperature…pg

  13. E.M.Smith says:


    It is also possible you have discovered another way of stressing the mycelium mat and convincing them that conditions have gone off here so time to make a mushroom and ‘spoor away’…

    IF as was asserted by the site above, they live as a commensal with trees, and anything that threatens the health of the tree causes a bloom; then it might respond to cutting or death of the tree, heat / fire damage, and pH threat…

    Looks to me like you already “did the experiment” and got the results…

    I’d also suggest noting the kinds of trees around the places where you got the blooms. Are there any from the ash / elm family? Or are pines sufficient for the Morel?

  14. Scissor says:

    When I was in junior high, a shortcut to/from the bus stop was to walk through the property of a small church (yes it was a white building with a typical steeple). I don’t recall the details, but this church basically abandoned the property and it had several large elm trees on it. Around that time, Dutch elm disease had killed a couple of the trees and no one was there to clean up the dead branches and debris. I even seem to recall that one of the trees had even fallen over.

    Anyway, one time cutting through the church grounds, I noticed a couple of morels. I picked them and saw a couple more. I decided I would go home to get a knife and a bag. I ended up completely filling a grocery bag. I found more morels in that one day than I’ve found in all my years thereafter.

    I’ve looked for them in Colorado a few times but haven’t found a single one. I know where to find King Boletus here but they are more bulk than flavor.

  15. jim2 says:

    RE: Cement and fire. Cement has a high pH. For fire, smoke is acidic, low pH, and leaves behind a base, the ash, with a high pH. Sounds like a high pH is the key, or at least a key for the bloom.

  16. jim2 says:

    So sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, or sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide (hydroxides probably used sparingly) could be tried to induce blooming.

  17. Jim Masterson says:

    Have you ever been so intoxicated you found yourself stumbling around, trying to find your friends, ending up in places you would never normally go, and executing behaviours you would normally never do sober?

    Would holding onto a filthy commode for support and retching your guts out apply?

    When they refer to things a drunken sailor would do . . . been there, done that.


  18. E.M.Smith says:

    We referred to it as “Driving the Porcelain Bus”…

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